It can be quite difficult to be a devout and observant Muslim with regards to eating out at restaurants, especially in restaurants that don’t specifically serve halal certified foods and drinks. This may not mean much to non-Muslims, but for devout believers of Islam, this could mean the deciding factor between the basic right to self-sustenance or starvation.
So, how does one as a devout Muslim ascertain whether meat severed in restaurants is halal certified? Restaurants that serve halal food in Malaysia are many, but there are those that don’t publicly post that they serve halal foods. Whether you’re in Malaysia, or any other country, how do can you tell if the food is halal?
Here is a quick guide on how to ensure that meat served in restaurants adheres to Islamic dietary laws.
How to Ascertain if a Dish is Halal – A Brief Guide
If you’re in a community where the Muslim population is relatively low, chances are you may find it difficult to discover certified halal dishes at restaurants or eateries. In such instances, you can do a few things:
1. If the restaurant has a ‘kosher’ certification (i. e. they serve certified kosher foods), then you’re good to go. As per Quranic edict, a devout Muslim may freely partake of foodstuffs prepared by any of the ‘Ahn al-Kitab’ (‘People of the Books’, i. e. Jews and Christians). A good thing about ‘kashrut’ dietary laws is that they are quite similar to Islamic dietary laws in that they do not serve pork, non-scaled fish, or crustaceans.
2. You can order foodstuffs which do not contain meat or which are basically poultry, beef, or dairy-based, or you could opt for vegan or vegetarian dishes instead. If one is aware of the method of preparation or ingredients of food to be haram, then one may not consume it.
3. You can ask the restaurant if they are halal certified, or if they cater to Muslim dietary needs. If the restaurant staff is unfamiliar with Islamic dietary needs and restrictions, you can simply explain the types of food you can eat. You will usually find that most restaurants around the world are quite accommodating to the needs of their customers, regardless of their religious beliefs.
If you are in a community where the Muslim population is size-able, you can readily find restaurants that claim to serve halal foodstuffs. However, just because the sign may say halal food available, it’s not a perfect guarantee.
To better ascertain whether an eatery or restaurant is ‘Muslim-friendly’ you can also check for the following:
Is there a sign prominently displayed
Is there a sign or other indication on the menu that they are certified by the Muslim Food Board as serving authentic halal food?
Ask about the restaurant
You can discreetly inquire about the background of the restaurant or their menu to the maître d’hotel. In most cases, Muslim-friendly restaurants tend to have a practicing Muslim chef or staff who have been properly trained in the correct preparation of food that completely adheres to Islamic dietary laws.
Choose restaurants that are frequented by a large majority of Muslims – As per Quranic Law, the sect of the individual Muslim who sells or serves food needn’t matter, nor are their preparations suspect in any way by virtue of their religious belief.
Fortunately, restaurants that serve halal food in Malaysia are found everywhere – from high-end restaurants, regular eateries, and even street food stalls. Being a devout Muslim needn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy eating out with family or friends, especially where there are a lot of ways to enjoy halal food without fear or worry. Good eating to you, and Assalamualeikum!